Whats going on?
Its been super restless in Jerusalem for weeks. There is violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Palestinians throw stones, bottles and fireworks, the Israeli police put in tear gas and flash grenades and shoot rubber bullets. In recent days, the riots have injured hundreds of Palestinians and several dozen Israeli policemen. According to Palestinians, 24 Palestinians have died, including 9 children.
The immediate cause of the violence is a ruling by an Israeli judge on four Palestinian families living in East Jerusalem. Thats the old part of town. The Palestinians must leave their homes from an Israeli judge and give way to Jewish Israelis.
According to Israel, the ground is under the houses of the Palestinian families of Jewish organizations. The Palestinians have lived there since they fled the war with Israelis in 1948, which was about the establishment of the State of Israel. We will explain more about this under the heading what about again? .
Why is it going wrong in Jerusalem?
A lot of people are extra angry because this is happening in Jerusalem. That city is the centre of a quarrel between Israelis and Palestinians that has been going on for years.
The conflict is about who can live where. Most Israelis are Jewish and many Palestinians are Muslim. Israel is an important country for both religions. And above all Jerusalem plays a major role in both the Torah and the Koran. For this reason, both sides see Jerusalem as a holy city.
Until 1967, Israel and Jerusalem were split into an Israeli and a Palestinian territory. That resulted in a lot of conflicts. In 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank, where many Palestinians lived, and also took East Jerusalem. The administration of that city has been in the hands of Israel since then, but by far most countries say that East Jerusalem is still considered Israel occupied Palestinian territory.
What about again?
Because it is unclear whether there will ever be a Palestinian State, there is also a division over which borders apply. This has to do with the long-term conflict over who is allowed to live legally in the country.
Jewish Israelis believe that they are the native population of the country. For this reason, they believe that the State of Israel should exist. They say that, among other things, on the basis of the Torah, the sacred scripture of the Jews. The Palestinians disagree, they say they belong in the country and have always lived there.
Around the year 1500, the area that is now Israel belonged to the Ottoman Empire. At that time, Muslims were in charge. There were also no clear national boundaries for the areas we now call Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The Ottoman Empire fell after the First World War in 1918, when the empire was divided into several areas. Britain temporarily became the master of the area that was then called the Palestine mandate. Many Jews wanted to move to Israel at that time, because they were persecuted in other places for their faith.
The British promised Jews a country of their own, in the Palestine mandate. The Arab inhabitants, most of whom now call themselves Palestinian, did not agree. They didnt want to give up the place where they lived. The British came up with a solution that was never implemented in the end. They wanted to split the country into part for Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs. But that was different.
During World War II, at least six million Jews were murdered by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. For this reason, there was a great deal of sympathy around the world to give the Jews their own country.
In 1948, the Jewish state of Israel was declared unilaterally. That is, the Jews there recorded that Israel is their country. But Palestinian Arabs disagreed with that. Also surrounding Arab countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Iraq indicated that they were not okay with the new country of Israel.
Around the establishment of the State of Israel, war broke out between the Israelis and the Palestinians. In doing so, Israel conquered many Palestinian territories and became the boss there. The remaining Palestinian territories came into the hands of Jordan (the West Bank, including East Jerusalem) and Egypt (the Gaza Strip).
The Six-Day War was a war fought in 1967 between Israel and all Arab neighbours. During that war, Israel conquered and occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip. Israel is still in charge there. Except in the Gaza Strip, which was returned to the Palestinians in 2005.
Officially, Israel controls the whole of Jerusalem, including East Jerusalem. Nevertheless, many other countries, united in international organizationssuch as the United Nations, The EU and also the Netherlands East Jerusalem still as occupied Palestinian territory.
Since 1967, there have been regular conflicts in Israel and the Palestinian territories with a lot of violence and civilian casualties. The Palestinians are fighting against Jewish settlements in the West Bank and against the occupation of the Palestinian territories in general. They sometimes do this by committing attacks in Israel, firing missiles from Gaza or throwing stones against the Israeli army.
The Israeli army often intervenes hard in protests and after attacks by, for example, attacking Gaza with air strikes. Citizens are also often killed.
Sometimes things are somewhat calmer in Israel and the Palestinian territories, but things still go wrong regularly. Like now, by force thats been going on for weeks. Tensions are particularly rising in the Old City, in East Jerusalem. There many Palestinians go to the one important mosque in the evening because of the Ramadan: the Al Aqsa Mosque. It stands next to an important Jewish place: the Wailing Wall.
According to our correspondent in Israel and the Palestinian territories, the conflicts will take a while. This has to do with Jerusalem Day, an important day for right-wing and Orthodox Israelis. They celebrate on 10 May that Israel conquered East Jerusalem during the Six-Day War in 1967. Many Palestinians find it disrespectful.